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First time cruiser w/ family

Discussion in 'Carnival Cruise Lines' started by Kararific, Apr 15, 2009.

  1. Kararific

    Kararific Guest

    Hi all!
    First, I want to say that cruisers seem to be a very friendly bunch! :wave I've been reading some posts today and I'm surprised with how many responses the newbies get so I'll run my tentative plan by y'all.

    I am looking at doing a cruise this September (only because it's it the cheapest time to go with good weather?) We had originally discussed going to Disneyworld but I really, really want to take a cruise. So I looked into a Disney cruise but *gasp* $6800 for a family of 5 (2 adults, 3 kids, 1 room) for 7 days.
    I talked to a Cruisesonly.com agent last night and got that price as well as:
    -Caribbean, 4 days, 5 people, 1 room $1,000
    -Caribbean, 7 days, 5 people, 2 connecting rooms $2,300

    I forget what part of the Caribbean they were, I'll guess Western since that's usually cheaper??
    I also forget which ships.

    Which leads me to my questions -
    1) My boyfriend and I would like to get married on the ship - vacation, wedding, honeymoon all at once. I'm frugal like that. :D Can we do that without a $1,000+ wedding packing? We won't have any family there besides our 3 kids. We want it simple and the kids to be involved. No frills. Just someone to officiate and let all 5 of us say vows/commitments.

    2) Any Carnival ship better over another for kids? Kids are 9, 6 & 5. We do want the Water Works park - is that on all of them?

    3) Any other cruise lines family friendly other than Carnival that I should look into? Shh, I know this is the Carnival forum.

    4) I honestly don't think I care TOO much about where we go - I just want the experience of a cruise and I think the kids will have a blast, regardless. I've heard stories about going to Jamaica and buying an off-shore excursion and being very disappointed. I don't mind seeing such areas, I do want to experience as many parts of the world as I can BUT I'm also spending good $$ on a cruise and don't want to be disappointed either.

    5) I've heard there is $10 per day/per person? tipping and I've seen you can buy a tip package ahead of time. which is better?

    6) Is there any other time of year that is cheaper to go than September?

    I think this is a good start to my questions. I'll wait for some replies, ponder some more, read some more forums and go from there.

    Thank you in advance!
  2. Mbandy

    Mbandy Guest

    Ahoy Kara and =welcome to Cruise @ddicts.

    I know weddings on ships can be rather expensive. Some people opt to get married while on the cruise on the beach on one of the islands. Just a thought.

    The fall is usually the least expensive time to cruise. A common misconception is that's because it is hurricane season. Not true. Tropical Storm season runs from the 1st of June through the 30th of November and summer cruises are much higher than fall cruises. The reason Fall cruises are cheaper is that the kids are back in school and less people are free to travel when the kids are in school.

    As far as gratuities are concerned, Carnival will automatically add them to your ship board account or you can pre pay them when you book your cruise as an add-on.

    The water parks are not on all Carnival ships but all do have an awesome water slide.

    I think Carnival would be a good fit for your family from you have described. My favorite itinerary of 18 cruises is either the Valor from Miami or the Legend from Tampa going to Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Belize and Roatan.

    =funsign planning your cruise.
  3. suer182

    suer182 Guest

    Carnival and Royal Caribbeans newer ships will have the water park stuff. Some of the ships will have slides. IMO, you cant go wrong with either cruise line.

    You can check their websights for the deckplans of the ships.

    You have the best attitude about the destination as you never know where the ship might end up. September is prime hurricane season. The reason the prices are less expensive. Keep in mind that the Capts on these ships are male and they are not about to jeopardize their ego or a billion dollar vessel by taking any risks. They do their best to keep you out of harms way. So dont be surprised if you end up in other ports or a day at sea than what the itinerary states.

    I have sailed in a hurricane a few times. We had a blast ever single sailing.

    To answer the tip question, do the math. Sometimes people like to prepay them to avoid the shock of your bar bill. They slide a sheet a paper under your cabin door on the last night of all your onboard purchases. Some peoples are the size of a dictionary. :) You can also go down to the pursers desk and get a running tab and even put money on your account.
    Your cabin key is your tide into your charge card. You use that for all onboard purchases.

    Sorry I cant help about the wedding package. Try calling Carnival direct or have your TA call.
  4. Calgon1

    Calgon1 Guest

    On-board weddings tend to be rather expensive; and, are not available on most cruise lines. The standard is to have your wedding ashore at one of the ports. Problem here is when your all scheduled for Port X and the ship diverts because of the weather.

    A suggestion ~ Have the wedding ashore the day before the cruise, at the home port. That way, you know you won't be diverted. And, you'll have the benefit of being at the port the day before sailing (that's a very good thing).
  5. Luci

    Luci Guest

    I think you should get married after you get home because you will be spending 24/7 days with your boyfriend and you will be able to see if you can handle being with him and your kids on the ship. You will be able to see his flaws if he has any towards your kids and you. I am serious. I think it is a hassell to get married on a ship. It is best to just go on the cruise and have fun.

    CARNIVAL is better than any other cruiseline because they have the larger cabins of 185sq.feet. You can request two inside cabins that have a door that opens up to the other cabin. The INSIDER CABINS are a lot cheaper. Plus, you will have access to two bathrooms.

    Tell your agent to look for the cheapest rate on a large ship of 3,000 passengers. Those large ships have big time sales on their cabins in order to fill up their ships. Ask for Catagory 4A which has the cheapest rate.

    Try to cruise out of a port that is cheaper to fly to or drive to the cruise port.

    I have no idea what city you live in to give you better advise. Luci
  6. Cruizer

    Cruizer Guest

    1) Sorry, I don't know the answer to this one.

    2) Not all the Carnival ships have the waterworks. It is being added to the Fantasy class ships, beginning last year and extending through next year. The Fantasy class ships are:
    Fantasy - which does have the waterworks
    Ecstasy - which does not have the waterworks yet
    Sensation - which does have the waterworks
    Fascination - which does not have the waterworks yet
    Imagination - which does have the waterworks
    Inspiration - which does have the waterworks
    Elation - which does not have the waterworks yet
    Paradise - which does not have the waterworks yet

    The Dream will have the waterworks, but the Dream is still being built.

    3) The family friendly lines are Carnival, Disney, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean. Given your interest in the waterworks, I would suggest also looking into Royal Caribbean's Freedom class of ships (Freedom of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas and Independence of the Seas). All three have what is called the H2O Zone. Here are a couple of pictures ...



    Here is a link to several more photos of the H2O Zone ... http://www.cruise-addicts.com/photogallery/v/Freedom+OTS/?g2_page=3

    4) As a first time cruiser, I would strongly suggest that you stick to the ship sponsored excursions. Until you know what you are doing, it is not a good idea to go off on your own. Going on a private excursion requires homework and understanding the risks you are taking. If you go on a ship sponsored excursion, the only real risk you take is paying more for the excursion then you would if you knew what you were doing and did your homework.

    5) I recommend having the tips charged to your on board account (Sail & Sign card). Paying your tips in advance is like tipping the waiter or the waitress before you even get to the restaurant.

    6) One of the least expensive times to cruise is between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The weeks of Thanksgiving and Christmas are very expensive. However, the three weeks in between those two holidays are some of the most inexpensive. Also, if you are in the Caribbean, September is a prime hurricane month, while December is outside of hurricane season, which runs June 1 to November 30 (however, this has not been communicated to mother nature, so sometimes a hurricane appears before or after it should). Weather in the Caribbean is fairly consistent, with the summers being about 10 degrees warmer than the winters.
  7. Kararific

    Kararific Guest

    Great idea! I thought about getting married at home or at the port city, but I like the idea of getting married on the beach.
    I called Carnival directly this week and was able to ask lots of questions. Turns out that is THE cruise we are looking at! 7 days, leaves Sept 20 (My oldest son's bday!). 2 connecting oceanview staterooms for $2095 (early saver rate). I'm SO nervous to bite the bullet and put down the deposit but that is THE cruise we want. Makes me smile that it makes a cruiseaddicts top cruise list. (tu)

    You saying that makes me feel better. Thanks.

    Calgon1 - Thanks. I do think I'll look into getting married on shore too.

    Thanks for the thought but we've been living together for 1.5 years already so we both know what is in store for us. :couple

    Cruizer - wow! Thanks for the pictures and information. I haven't looked into the Royal Caribbean but I'll take a look at their site today.

    The other concern I have is Camp Carnival - I've been told they are strict on the ages and my 5 & 6 year olds can't be together. When they first told me that, I told them that it sounds like a cruise isn't for us this year until the 5 year turns 6 and they can be together. They aren't inseparable by any means but putting 2 little kids on a ship with strangers... geez, I think they'd be happier being able to be together. The 2nd person I talked to told me that Camp Carnival was in 1 room and they'd be together but they'd have to do separate activities. That sounded a bit better to me but I'm still surprised how strict they are being about not letting a 5 & 6 year siblings be together. Thoughts?

    Also, do I schedule any off-shore excursions or can I wait until the day of and I'd think places would cater to vacations and we'd be able to find something to do. I'm also okay with just walking around the port cities and taking the sites in. Is that a good/bad plan?

    What airline should I look at for tickets? I'm flying out of Kansas City. I've only flown Southwest before.

    Again, thank you all in advance for taking the time to read and/or post!
  8. Cruizer

    Cruizer Guest

    The activities are age based. Thus they need to divide the groups up by age, just like at school. If everyone ignored the age groupings, the program would be chaos. If your children are a year apart, then they are not in the same grade in school. Everyone is a stranger on the first day. If your children survived their first day at school, they can survive being in separate groups on the ship.

    On the first night, after dinner, there will be a mixer, so everyone gets to meet everyone. Thus, on the first day they will not all be strangers. After the first day none will be strangers. Here are some pictures of the first night's mixer on the Carnival Pride in May 2004 ...





    Here is a link to some more photos of the Carnival Pride ... http://www.cruise-addicts.com/photogallery/v/Pride+-+May+2004/
  9. cruiseoften

    cruiseoften Guest

    Some of the wedding packages are as low as $1000. No live flowers though. Expensive photography.

    Camp Carnaval is so much fun for the kids I really don't think it would be a problem if they are in separate activities.

    Shore excursions can be very expensive. I always did excursions I found on another popular cruise forum site on their ports of call forums. Great tour guides or ideas for diferent activities in each port. Always had a good time.

    You'll have a great time! The only problem is everyone will want gourmet meals, clean rooms, ice and everything when you get home.

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